Hot trend: The plait

Mar 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. ET

Listen up, beauties: The plait is back in a big way. This simple yet super flattering hairdo is great for work and play. It's pretty, sweet and sexy rolled in one: No wonder it's a star. Here's a how-to on three of the hottest braid trends right now.

Girl with braided hair

Upside down braid

Upside down braid

An upside down braid is exactly what it sounds like: a braid that starts at the bottom of your head (near the nape of your neck) and goes upwards until it reaches the crown. At that point, you stop plaiting and finish the look with a bun or ponytail. This style is seriously cool and although it looks fancy, it really isn’t that hard to master — but it might take a few tries to get it right.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a section of hair from the top half of your head, making sure it’s from ear to ear. Secure it with a clip. (Note: This is the part you won’t be braiding.)
  2. Flip your head upside down. Starting as close to the nape as you can, loosely braid the lower half of your hair. Make sure you weave all the hair in this section into the braid. When you’ve reached the point when you’re braiding the ends of your hair (i.e. the part you would put into a pony), you can stop.
  3. Hold your plait with one hand and use the other to unclip the top section and let it loose. Use your fingers to rake it up into a high pony.
    Note: Don’t worry about plaiting and tying your hair up super tight — this style actually looks best when your hair is a bit disheveled and relaxed.
  4. Join both sections of your hair so that your braid is now part of your ponytail.
  5. Flip your head back up. Using a brush, smooth the surface of your hair to get rid of any bumps.
  6. Finally, tie your hair up into a high pony or a bun. (We vote a bun because it shows off the detail more.) Secure any loose bits with bobby pins and a light hairspray.

Want more plait inspiration? Check out The Hunger Games: Fun twists on the Katniss hairstyle >>

Braided updo

Braided updo

This kind of 'do made quite a splash on the red carpet last year, and judging from the looks we’ve seen celebs sporting so far in 2013, it’s a trend that’s here to stay. It’s not hard to wonder why the braided updo is so popular: It’s chic yet casual, sexy yet polished, and adds interest to your look. This braid goes across the top of your head and looks sort of like a headband. It also leaves the ends of your hair loose, meaning you can do whatever you like with it: A low bun or pony are great options. Want to try this look?

Here’s a how-to guide:

  1. Blow dry your hair so it’s straight, but has a little volume. Work some finishing spray or anti-frizz serum through the ends of your hair.
  2. Create a low side part and divide the top part of your hair into two halves. Secure one half away for now with a clip.
  3. Begin braiding one of the sections across your head and down the side of your crown, making sure to pull in hair from the back. Once you’ve reached the opposite ear, stop braiding and simply plait the hair to the ends. Tie it up with an elastic.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Use your fingers to gently loosen the loops of the plaits to create more texture and "relax" the look a bit.
  6. Using bobby pins, attach both plaits to the back of your head.
  7. At this point, the top half of your hair should be all braided, while the bottom half should be loose. This is where you can have some fun with the style. You can either leave your hair down for a super beachy look, or tie it up into a loose ponytail or chignon.

Fishtail braid

Fishtail braid

If you have gorgeous thick hair, the fishtail is a style that’s made for you. Flaunted by beauties like Blake Lively, Cheryl Cole and Rihanna, the fishtail suits every occasion. If you’re going for a polished look, wear it tight and sleek, and if you prefer softer styles and don’t want to look too "done", wear it a little looser. The fishtail is a twist on the ordinary plait, and as such, it does take a little more effort. But with a bit of practice, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Follow this guide:

  1. If possible, start with second-day hair. Most hairstyles look best when they have a little texture to work with, so just use dry shampoo if you need to get rid of any oil.
  2. Part your hair wherever you like. Both side and centre parts look great with this ‘do.
  3. Divide the ends of your hair into two even sections, and tightly hold the left section in your left hand, and the right section in your right hand.
  4. Using your left hand, pick up a 2cm chunk of hair from the outside of the left section and cross it over to the inside of the right section. Make sure you hold your hair tightly so it doesn’t fall out.
  5. Now, moving on to the other side. Using your right hand, pick up a 2cm width of hair from the outside of the right section and cross it over to the inside of the left section.
  6. Repeat this process until you reach the end of your hair. Remember, to nail this style, you need to keep a tight hold on your hair.
  7. Secure the braid with an elastic. If you’re going for the polished look, keep the fishtail as it is: nice and tight. If you love the slightly messy, casual version, gently — we repeat, gently! — pull on the braid to loosen the loops.

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Photo Credits: Networkpanda, Updoguru, Tumblr